How to respond when you are publicly accused or shamed of sexual harassment like Harvey Weinstein #MeToo

The Harvey Weinstein scandal has caused many women such as Cindy Gallop name and shame men of sexual harassment in public. Unfortunately, this might be false and have career ruining consequences for men. While I condemn sexual harassment, I do believe that men accused are allowed to be taught how to respond, just as men have the right to hire lawyers when they are criminally accused or sued.

First, do note that being guilty of sexual harassment, is one of the worst form of crime in the court of public opinion. You will be forced to resign from your job and in the google/facebook age, this accusation will stay with you for life, rendering you unemployable. Hence, this is what you should do and not do.

  1. Do not apologize publicly. Unlike the civil or criminal court, the court of public opinion is ruthlessly unforgiving. Apologizing will not only ruin your career, it will also force your allies to not able to defend you, as proven by Harvey Weinstein, Dave Mcclure etc. Their allies are forced to retract their statements and condemn them.
  2. Do not reach out the accuser to apologize privately. Reaching out to the accuser to apologize only works if he or she is willing to forgive. If someone is naming you publicly, the window of forgiveness is totally gone. I would say being named publicly is no different than when cops are called or when you are being sued for harassment. You would not reach out to him or her to apologize since the window of forgiveness is gone, you reach out to a defence lawyer.
  3. Do not stay silent. Staying silent, in the eyes of the court of public opinion, is guilt. So hence, you must respond. You may stay silent if you are just accused on twitter. If the media picks up on the accusation, you must respond.

There is how to respond.

  1. Do respond in a blog, instead of twitter. The maximum amount of characters you can respond on twitter is too short. Moreover, tweets are very easily misinterpreted as it is so easily shared. Respond in a blog, medium or facebook post.
  2. Do strongly deny. If you want your allies to defend you publicly, you must make it easy for your allies to defend you. Hence, you must deny at all cost